Victory over a hated rival is always the sweetest of victories, and for the Oklahoma Sooners, it had been just a little too long since players and fans alike had tasted its goodness. But that wait is over, after a 28-20 Sooner victory over the Texas Longhorns.
Although the score indicates a close game, this was a game that Oklahoma took control of early on, and never really let up until a slight falter in the fourth quarter. Texas struggled throughout the day on offense and in containing the Oklahoma running game.
For the Sooners, despite the tightness and anxiety in the closing minutes, this was only the second complete performance by a team that has been struggling with consistency on both sides of the ball all year long. The Sooners played solid defense and generated plenty of offense moving up and down the field.
Here's how the game shook out individually:
Rushing Offense: B+
Of course, anything would be an improvement after last year's debacle (-16 yards for the game), but the Sooners responded in a big way. Not counting sacks or the near disastrous fake field goal attempt, the Sooners ran for 174 yards on the ground for nearly four yards per carry.
DeMarco Murray had an excellent game, rushing for 115 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns. And all of this came against a very good Texas defense.
Mossis Madu and Trey Millard ran for some hard yards as well, especially Millard who was able to convert several third-and-shorts with his powerful running style.
The biggest key for the Sooners' running game was the consistency. The offensive line was able to create holes for Murray and company to run through and did so consistently. That more than anything allowed Oklahoma to have success on the ground.
Passing Offense: A
Landry Jones, despite two late gaffes that nearly cost Oklahoma the game, had a great game and looked like the leader Oklahoma fans everywhere have been looking for all season. Jones finished the day 24-of-39 for 236 yards and two scores. The biggest stat: no interceptions. In fact, there was only one pass that Jones threw that was even close to being picked off—an overthrow that Aaron Williams nearly came up with in spectacular fashion.
Although the fumbles didn't cost Oklahoma anything, especially the one that Texas was offsides on, they were still inexcusable. Jones has to protect the football more under pressure.
The receivers stepped up in a big way on Saturday, primarily those not named Ryan Broyles.
Broyles finished the day with only five catches for 36 yards, snapping both his 10 receptions in a game streak and 100 yards receiving streak. However, freshman Kenny Stills and junior DeJuan Miller stepped up in a big way to lead Oklahoma in receiving.
Stills finished the day with five catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, while Miller had five more for 61 yards. Tight end James Hanna had two catches, including one for a touchdown late in the second quarter that put OU up 21-7.
The running backs Murray, Madu, and Millard combined for seven catches out of the backfield for 49 yards.
The Oklahoma defense dominated the first half, only allowing a 60-yard touchdown run to DJ Monroe as the only play of any significance. Although Texas moved the ball with more efficiency in the second half, the Sooners defense played a very complete game and didn't allow Texas to establish any sort of rhythm.
The Sooners had two turnovers but one was a meaningless interception at halftime, and the muffed punt to end the game isn't technically accredited to the defense. The Sooners also had three sacks on the day, all coming at key times. One was at the start of the second quarter when Texas took over on downs after scoring a touchdown on its previous drive.
The sack wiped out any momentum Texas had gained and allowed the Sooners to get the ball back. The other two came in the fourth quarter on third downs, including the final one which prevented Texas from establishing anything after foiling the Sooners' fake field goal attempt.
Outside of Monroe's touchdown run, OU held Texas to 47 yards on the ground, a huge improvement from the past two games against Cincinnati and Air Force.
MVP: Kenny Stills
The freshman wide receiver from California continues to live up to the hype that began to grow after his spring game performance. On a day when star Ryan Broyles was often double covered, Stills stepped up, got open, and made great catches and big plays, including his touchdown catch where he was interfered with. With Stills and DeJuan Miller continuing to step up to complement Broyles, this offense is going to be scary good.
Oklahoma now goes into its bye week feeling much more confident about the status of the team. A victory over Texas puts Oklahoma in the driver's seat in the Big 12 South, but that by no means gives them the title outright.
The Sooners can enjoy the weekend off and use it to gear up for the rest of the conference slate, where you have to come to play every single week.